Friday, June 24, 2016

Is globalization really new?

In various parts of Europe, and maybe beyond, you can find ceramics made hundreds of years ago from my husband's hometown in Germany.

There are Roman ruins in Northern Africa, and Roman soldiers included black Africans.

The Ottoman Empire stretched from Belgrade past Baghdad.

The Persian empire stretched to Macedonia.

Marcus Antonius, a Roman politician, commonly known as Mark or Marc Antony, died in Egypt.

When you were in school, you learned about all sorts of various tribes from far away invading some land, taking it over, integrating with locals and influencing culture. You yawned. You wondered what that had to do with your life now. You didn't realize that the point was: culture is never fixed. Europe, Asia and Northern Africa, at least, have always had multi-national economies, even "global" economies. There were ancient empires in Central and South America and sub Sahara Africa , swallowing tribes, changing borders, influencing - or even wiping out - cultures.

Globalization has been with us for a few thousand years. Political unrest in one part of the world has affected another, for better or worse, long before airplanes and cars and even steamer ships. Borders have shifted and reshifted and disappeared and been redrawn. Languages have come and gone. Tribes have formed, thrived and dispersed. Over and over and over. Yet we pretend we need to "get back" to a time that never existed, when borders were absolute, when we were isolated and prosperous.

I absolutely understand the love of a culture in which you are born and/or raised. You hear the music of your land, the language or accent of your home, you smell the food, and you feel your heart stir, you feel a sense of identity. I do. I mourn when a beloved restaurant closes in my home town, or another radio station that played the music I love changes formats, or that I have to curb my accent because, when I use it outside of my region, people can't understand me. But I also love it when someone in the Czech Republic says, upon learning I'm from Kentucky, "Horses!" Or when I meet a guy from Japan that plays bluegrass and talks lovingly about a pilgrimage he made to Kentucky years ago. I know these things will survive as long as there are people that love them and celebrate them. But I'm not going to force anyone to eat barbecue instead of burritos or hummus. I eat burritos. I eat hummus.

You might love your far away roots as well. Finding out that, genetically, I am 29% Celt, more than any other European tribe, gave me an emotional boost for Ireland and Scotland, two places I'd already fallen in love with from vacationing there, and I wear my Claddagh ring with pride in my genetic heritage. But does it really matter? I didn't grow up in Ireland or Scotland. No one in my family ever talked about Ireland or Scotland. The farthest back I ever heard anyone talk about the family was a great great grandparent or two - the story usually involved a wagon or a donkey or a farm, within the boundaries of the USA. I choose to identify with Ireland and Scotland. Would it be fair if I'd found out I was part Shawnee, to start identifying as native American? You can, and may, wear a Claddagh ring and not be from Ireland. That's fine. I don't mind. But identity is tricky. It's complicated. It's personal.

I love the English language. I really do. It's such a hodgepodge. And that word, hodgepodge, is so English. It's an alteration of hotchpotch and associated with hodge, an archaic British English term for an agricultural worker. Did you know that? If you didn't, does that make you less of an English speaker than me? I celebrate English by reading Shakespeare and John Steinbeck and Toni Morrison, and looking up word origins, and going to theater, and reading poetry, and trying to use proper grammar, and supporting literacy programs. I don't celebrate it by forcing people to speak it and getting angry when they don't. And my many English friends don't celebrate it by telling me I'm horrid for using American pronunciations and spellings (they just make fun of me). Yes, I think everyone in the USA that is a citizen, or wants to be, or that wants to live here for the rest of their lives, should be able to read and speak English. But I don't at all mind hearing instructions in another language as well. And I also think every USA citizen should delight in hearing other languages, and even learn another one. I'm not threatened by other languages, because I love my native language and celebrate it - why don't you? You can celebrate your heritage and not be a dick about it.

The global language used to be Greek. GREEK. Now, it's English, and more people on this Earth speak English than at any other time in human history. When the numbers of English speakers declines, give me a shout.

Projections show that new immigrants and their descendants will drive most USA population growth in the coming 50 years - just as they have for the past half-century (all my life). Non-Hispanic whites will remain the largest racial or ethnic group in the overall USA population, even in 2065, long after I'm dead, but non-Hispanic whites will become less than a majority. Among immigrants who arrived within the past five years, Asians already outnumber Hispanics, and there is a projected rise of Asians as our nation’s largest immigrant group (more on these numbers here). The projections also show a change in birth patterns, with a continuing dip in average lifetime births to Hispanic women and a slight rise in average lifetime births to Asian and white women. Today, average lifetime births to Hispanic women are markedly higher than to other groups, but the projections show that in 2065, Hispanics, whites, blacks and Asians would have similar fertility rates. Those projections lead some people in the USA to start breathing heavily, panic, and want to vote for extremists. And I just cannot understand why.

And I bring all this up as we all reel from the vote in the for-now-United Kingdom regarding membership in the European Union. The "leave" votes were from people who feel their language and food and values and even their history are under attack, who feel that intellectuals are a threat to their livelihoods and culture, and who feel left out of decision-making that does, very much, affect their lives. It's a vote based more on feelings than reality. But feelings matter. And woe to any politician, in Brussels or in Washington, D.C., that forgets that. The EU should employ the same participatory decision-making in Europe that it demands of projects it funds in the developing world. EU offices, you do a great job with social media - that's part of the reason people under 50 in the UK voted to stay in the EU. But you do a lousy job at traditional communications methods, and that's part of the reason people 50 and over voted to leave. Politicians, you MUST reach out. You must discuss. You must share. You must ask for feedback and show you have heard that feedback. Or you will have a revolution on your hands.

A friend posted this to Facebook, BEFORE the vote, and I think it's dead on:

Having been doing some canvassing it appears that we are heading for Brexit, but the reasons are peculiarly English and I can't cure anyone of that.

It is not because of Boris or his lying battlebus. I don't think anyone trusts him.

It is not because of Farage and his atrocious shit stirring. He is a dreadful human being and most people know this.

It is not because of the psychopathic Gove and his twisted view of the World. Would anyone let him look after their kids let alone the NHS?

It is not because there are so many wealthy people in Britain who won't be affected by the outcome and can afford the arrogance to ignore all the advice.

It is not because people believe any of the Brexit politicians. I don't think most people are really listening to what they are actually saying.

It is also not because anyone actually cares about the facts or figures or wrong or rights of the EU or any of the arguments. Most people support the EU and believe that it is generally good.

It seems to me that this Brexit vote is because people have had enough and don't care any more about the does and don'ts, they are going to have their day in court and the answer is basically 'anything politicians do not want.' People out there canvassing or working will tell you that the social contract between politicians and the people is broken and that the working man has had enough of shit jobs and shit lives and having to share the little with people who don't speak English and will sleep in their car, so if politicians ask them for a positive the answer is no, not for any good reason, but because it is not yes. Pretty much like the answer always is to them when they try and talk to politicians.

I do think right wing extremists are very much to blame for exploiting people's fears and misconceptions regarding this vote. But the EU is also to blame for this vote, for its poor job of communicating with its citizens, and its poor job of making people feel they are a part of the decisions being made about their lives. Let's face it: government and mainstream media are utterly out-of-touch. Back in 2005, I sat in Germany listening to pundits on CNN International and the BBC say over and over that there was no way French voters would reject the EU Constitution, and I thought, all the while, you guys are in for SUCH a shock. And when the French rejected that Constitution, those same pundits said, "Well, the Dutch will FOR SURE approve it." And, again, I shook my head in disbelief at how out-of-touch they were. And, boom, three days later, Dutch voters rejected the constitution by 61.6% of voters. And it's happened again, with Brexit. How does a fat, middle-aged girl from Kentucky know more than you, EU governments and CNN and BBC and all the rest, when it comes to how people feel and vote?!

I don't live a fear-based life - but oh-so-many people do, and not just in Europe. And rather than make fun of them, or dismiss them, or condemn them, it's time to start talking with them, as humans. If you don't, you can expect these same results when France votes or the Netherlands votes or whoever is next. Or in November right here in the USA...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Clothes, Clinton & Campaigns

As I said in an early blog, I will vote for Hillary Clinton in November, but I am NOT going to stop criticizing her for her positions and actions that are counter to the progressive values of the Democratic Party - or, at least, what those values should be (I'm sure she wouldn't like the first eight items in my suggestions to the Democratic Party).

I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary - and for Howard Dean 12 years ago - because of what I strongly believe the Democratic Party, and the US government, should focus on, and haven't been. I haven't abandoned my strongly held values, and I won't be by voting for Hillary Clinton. I will, rather, be helping to prevent a frightening man, leading a frightening movement, from taking over the USA and driving our country into full fascism.

But many of my friends that are Clinton supporters have a very big problem with this point of view. They don't think it's fair that I'm criticizing Clinton, that I'm not espousing "party unity." One even strongly suggested I'm sexist because I have criticized candidate Clinton for wearing a jacket worth $12,495 during a speech that focused on the struggles of working people.

I've made it clear that I think it's ridiculous that people criticize candidate Clinton for her hair, her voice, and her style of clothes (the length, the color, the cut, etc.). But this person challenged me to find a male politician criticized for what he wore, in those terms. So, I did - a slew of stupid stories from August 2012 about Paul Ryan:

A Look at Paul Ryan's Fashion Sense - The New York Times

Why the speakership suits Paul Ryan just fine, for now -

Everyone Agrees: Paul Ryan's Style Is Awkward -- The Cut

Paul Ryan's Suit: The Baggier, the Better? - The Daily Beast

Ditch the baggy suit, fashion experts advise Ryan | Reuters

Why it matters that Republican hopeful Paul Ryan dresses so badly ...

And more recently, this stupid style forum discussion, "What's up with Marco Rubio's suits."

I hate Paul Ryan. I hate Marco Rubio. But it's not for their clothes. I don't want to discuss whether a suit is too big or too much water was drunk in a speech at awkward moments. I want to discuss policies and actions.

I also noted that Donald Trump has been criticized for his skin color and hair and facial expressions and that I think that's ridiculous and won't do it. If it's wrong to criticize Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama for those things (and it is), I'm not going to do it with any male politician either. And for the record, I didn't do it with Sarah Palin - I talked about her idiot comments, not her hairstyles or her voice. Who in the hell cares?! I judge politicians regarding the content of character. Oh, how I judge...

Then my Clinton-supporting friend said, "I am waiting for an example of a man's speech being discredited because of what he was wearing when he made it." So I noted that every time Candidate Trump has gone on and on about how China has stolen USA jobs, how he'd put strict trade sanctions against Chinese-made products, he's been selling, and wearing, Trump clothes, including ties, made in China. And, yeah, he's been criticized for it. BY ME, among others.

Then she changed the rules again and said, "I would like an example of a woman getting a pass on anything a man takes for granted." And I gave up. Because it was obvious the bar was just going to keep getting moved, the terms of the argument would keep getting changed, so that there wouldn't be any way to debate with facts anymore.

I see Clinton's Versace jacket the same way I see Mitt Romney's car elevator: as representative of someone who cannot understand the challenges that working class people are facing. But unlike Romney, Clinton put her incredibly wealth right out in the people's faces, even as she talked about how Americans having recovered from the Great Recession, how they lost jobs and homes and savings, how we need to reduce income inequality.

Don't start accusing me of imposing a values purity test. If there was a Democratic values purity test, Bernie Sanders wouldn't have passed it, per his defense of guns, among other things. I wouldn't pass it. I'm not looking for perfection.

What we're talking about regarding Hillary Clinton is a long pattern of eschewing progressive values and, instead, catering to corporate America, to the people that almost brought down the USA economy, and surrounding herself with people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, big buddy of predatory lenders. We're talking about Clinton's tendency to ignore legitimate criticism of her elitism by engaging, even flouting, her elitism. Like when she came to Portland last year a few days after Bernie visited: anyone could see him, at his massive rally, for free, provided they got in before the fire marshall said the massive stadium was full; to see her, one had to pay $2,700-per-ticket in the exclusive Dunthorpe neighborhood. See also appointing a completely unqualified person / major Clinton Foundation donor to a highly-sensitive government intelligence advisory board. When you are being accused of something distasteful to voters, over and over and over, you should have the soundness of judgment not to egg it on with such a public misstep, like having an affair with young volunteer intern when, during your candidacy, you were repeatedly accused of not only extramarital affairs, but of being predatory.

This is about hypocrisy at worst and being profoundly out of touch with criticism of your actions at best. U2 does it when they say governments should do more about poverty even as they themselves avoid paying taxes. Thought leaders and celebrities do it in Davos, lecturing us about carbon emissions and global climate change while their conference leads to about 1,700 private flights in and out of Zurich and other airports for the meetings, held at an oh-so-luxurious hotel.

I still listen to U2 music, and enjoy it, by the way.

Ultimately, what this is about the Clinton campaign still not understanding what the Sanders movement was all about. Her campaign - and Clinton - just don't get Bernie Sanders supporters and their values. It shows just how much they are still out of touch with millions of Americans, not just Sanders supporters. And it reinforces the idea held by many that it's only through something really radical and profoundly painful, like losing an election that should be a given, that the oh-so-entrenched Democratic leadership will move aside.

I'm still voting for Hillary in November. But I'm not going to stop criticizing her when I see something I strongly get rid of it.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My submission to the Democratic Party platform

The Democratic Party has requested that Democratic Party members submit testimony for the Democratic Party platform. Members can submit it in writing or in a video. 

I went with text. 

Here's what I submitted:

I want the Democratic Party to commit to:

— creating legislation that completely, utterly undoes the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and prevents unregulated super PACS from ever happening again. Citizens should always know who is funding any advertising

— creating legislation that requires more transparent reporting for ALL campaign contributions, including to all 501 c 4 entities

— supporting EVERY provision of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and NOT repeal any of it

— asking all Presidential candidates to release the text of ALL speeches they have ever been paid to do, particularly in the last 10 years

— never voting for legislation that favors lending agencies over the rights and needs of consumers

— working to increase taxes on those in the top 1% income bracket, restoring the tax rates for that group that existed under Ronald Reagan

— working on legislation to apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than 9 out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year, thereby making social security sustainable

— closing the loophole in President Obama’s ban on lobbyists that is still allowing people to leave the government and immediately become high-paid lobbyists, and allows former industry lobbyists to write legislation meant to regulate their industries

— continuously educating local Democratic Party offices on how to better welcome and involve people under 50, low-income people, and people who are not of mostly European ancestry, and asking these local party offices to regularly collect and report demographic information of their meeting attendees

— continuously educating Democratic Party members on the local level on how to run for local offices

— dumping Super Delegates, as it could be used for the Party to defy the will of Party members

— get rid of caucuses and replacing them with voting. Caucuses are poisonous for participation, rewarding people with lots of time on their hands and rewarding intensity, and excluding people without such

— get rid of the Electoral College and making the election of the President direct democracy

— actively supporting automatic voter registration for everyone starting at age 18.

— making election day a federal holiday OR require early voting on weekends in all states

— outlawing gerrymandering

— restore the voting rights act and take aggressive action against laws meant to prevent citizens from voting

— pushing hard on the state level for a far shorter primary, one that starts later in an election year (April would be good)

— creating and regularly updating a 50-state strategy for the Party. As Bernie Sanders said, “We need to plant the flag of progressive politics in every state of this country.”

— reforming or getting rid of the law that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund its benefit obligations, as this is bankrupting the Post Office and forcing them into financial obligations that no corporation is required to do

— supporting the US Postal Service and not supporting privatization of the US Postal Service

— recognizing that volunteer engagement by government programs, nonprofits, schools and others is a way to demonstrate community support and transparency in work, that volunteers, while unpaid, are not free, per the resources needed to support volunteers during their service, that the value of volunteers is best expressed in terms of their impact, not in terms of a dollar value for their hours of service, and that volunteer engagement should never be used primarily, chiefly, to replace paid workers

— making an ambitious plan to take care of the crumbling infrastructure of the USA. Be as ambitious as FDR was regarding the work of the CCC, and Eisenhower was regarding the interstate roadways.

— supporting two years of fully-government-funded public university or public community college for every graduating high school senior

— supporting job training for people that have had careers in what are now dying industries: coal mining, coal processing, car manufacturing, etc., and supporting economic development in areas affected by this

— eschewing any welfare legislation that prevents parents from choosing to be full time, stay-at-home parents with children under 18, and that does not provide quality, affordable child care to any parents with children under 18

— helping Detroit and Flint Michigan, specifically, regarding their water, government corruption, their ongoing economic crisis, etc., and using your success there as a model for helping other severely-economically-depressed and marginalized communities throughout the USA

— beginning an aggressive program to give all American Indians the rights to water on their own lands

— beginning an aggressive program for job training, university education and other economic activities for American Indians, particularly those that spend at least 30% of their childhood on reservation lands

— fully funding and staff the IRS to do its work

— fully funding and staff ATF to do its work

— fully funding national parks, national forests, and facilities and programs in all national public lands, and eschew any corporate sponsorship/funding programs that take away ownership from people, that take away long-used names of such, etc.

— fully funding the National Endowment for the Arts

— addressing climate change from a scientific perspective

— supporting scientific research and education about science

— eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, and biofuels

— building an efficient, comprehensive public transportation system for the top 100 metropolitan areas of the USA

— supporting public schools and eschewing any public funding for private schools

— supporting public school teachers and involving them in all conversations about education policies

— never, ever compromising whatsoever on the issue of a woman’s right to abortion services, and access to those services, here or abroad

— creating a strategy to expand health care insurance and health care services so that every citizen of the USA anywhere has affordable healthcare coverage and access to quality health care services, and create legislation so that only doctors make medical decisions for patients (not accountants and other non-medical staff) and legislation so that NO person will go bankrupt because of medical bills

— increasing funding for mental health services and affordable housing back up to the percentages of the Reagan administration

— fully funding the CDC to study, and talk about, injuries and deaths associated with guns

— using language that includes people who are NOT a part of any religion, who do NOT identify as “people of faith”

— creating strong regulation of guns, with licensing laws for guns and gun owners at least as strict as licensing laws for cars and car drivers, and with limits on how many guns can be in one household

— working to abolish the death penalty, because we cannot guarantee that innocent people have not died as a result of this

— mandating that all federal properties that were built or maintained by enslaved people, that housed enslaved people, must note such on prominent information boards and in all presentations about the history of such properties

— reforming the federal student loan program. It would be best to get rid of it entirely and work to create a way with nonprofit credit unions for people wanting loans to go to university to be able to receive such, with greatly-reduced interest rates. It would also be best to put a cap on how much money above the amount of a student loan that any institution could charge.

— support public colleges and public universities, but absolutely prevent government funding for for-profit colleges and universities

— create much more strict regulations on for-profit pay-day loan companies, rent-to-own companies, and big banks that engage in predatory lending

— committing to working with elected representatives of all political parties in local, state and national governing bodies, to seek areas of common ground and always pursuing what is best for the people of the USA

— listening to military leaders regarding the closure of military bases and weapons and training needed, rather than military contractors and lobbyists

— reducing the vast amount of financial waste in military spending

— increasing funding for mental health services for military members and their families, including after military service, and never in association with the type of discharge a military member has experienced (in other words, do not prevent someone who is dishonorably discharged from receiving government-funded mental health services)

— offering a list of reforms and timelines for the Veteran’s Administration’s health care services, and offering updates every six months on progress towards those improvements

— supporting family leave laws in line with those of other developed countries

— banning prisons run by private companies, thereby removing any financial incentive to keep people incarcerated

— banning governments from relying on fines as a primary way to fund local government services (as happened in Ferguson)

— supporting the Dream Act

— supporting a path to legal residency for people in the USA that are in the USA illegally but could meet several strict guidelines (regarding academics, police records, etc.) as well as creating a way for people outside the USA to apply for temporary work visas in the USA for work such as agricultural produce harvests and construction

— creating an aggressive plan to create affordable housing and reduce the number of homeless people in the USA, and through policy and action, recognizing there are multiple, related and individualized causes of homelessness

That’s a start… and in addition to the many other activities done on behalf of the party for women specifically, for various minority communities specifically, for the environment, for children, for immigrants, for people with disabilities, and more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

For Bernie supporters, from a Bernie supporter

No, Bernie supporters, you do not have to vote for Hillary in November.

No one responds well to “You HAVE to vote for so-and-so.” As I mentioned on Facebook, when I caucused for Howard Dean in 2004, I had Kerry delegates smugly tell me how we Dean and Kucinich supporters would HAVE to vote for Kerry, how we were wasting our votes and wasting the time of the Democratic Party and giving a gift to the GOP by daring to not vote for the presumptive nominee. I was so angry at hearing it again and again that, when Dean dropped out, I toyed with not voting AT ALL - why would I vote for a man whose supporters think so little of me and MY values? I saw Clinton supporters doing the same as those Kerry supporters, especially in the last month, and it’s a shame, because all it does is drive potential supporters - VOTERS - away. I did vote for John Kerry that November, but many Dean and Kucinich did not, because Kerry spent his entire campaign trying to run down Bush and trying to deflect criticism of his own record; Kerry made no effort to appeal to those disenfranchised Dems, and the consequence was that he LOST to a wildly unpopular President. In 2008, many Hillary supporters talked repeatedly to the press about how they would NOT support Obama, so candidate Obama went out of his way to address the concerns of Hillary voters - and the result was that they voted for him in droves. It was NOT because Hillary said, "Vote Obama", it was because Obama worked to earn those votes. Hillary supporters - and Clinton herself - should take heed of this.

When Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but was robbed of the presidency by Florida and Ohio shenanigans, I blamed the GOP… and all those who voted for Ralph Nader. I wasn’t crazy at all about Al, for all the same reasons I’m not crazy about Hillary - but there was no question he was better than the Shrub, and the Supreme Court has always been enough of a reason for me to vote Democrat, so I was really bitter about Nader voters for not helping to stop George Bush. Plus, I don't think Nadar is qualified to run the country. But I changed my mind about Nader supporters a few months into 2001, as I read more and more about voter turnout and their points of view. Nader supporters voted their values and wanted to send a strong message to the Democratic Party - and I respect that, because that's what my country is about: voting your beliefs. If Al Gore, the Democratic Party candidate, didn’t appeal to them, that’s the candidate’s problem - no one else to blame. It’s up to the primary winner to work to unite the party - that’s part of his or her job. If she can’t do that, then how will she work with a divided Congress, like she keeps assuring us she can?

I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, even though I’m frightened of what her foreign policy will be and have no idea where she stands on so many issues - she went from pro-Palestinian to staunchly pro-Israel, she was for the China trade deal before she was against it (though I’m hearing hints that she’s for it again), she never championed raising the minimum wage but now, ta da, is talking about it (though in TINY increments), she was so pro Gun the first time she ran for President that candidate Obama said she sounded like “Annie Oakley” (look it up!), she pushed HARD for fracking in Europe while secretary of state (much to the anger of Europeans, who do NOT want it) but now claims environmentalist credentials, she was staunchly against gay marriage and then, after every other Dem was for it, changed her mind at last - but denied she ever changed her mind - and on and on.  Her comments regarding Nancy Reagan and AIDS were horrific and shameful, and her reasons offered as to why she did so were nonsensical. Looking at her record as Senator and Sec of State, she’s hawkish and pro-corporation and pro-banks, even those that almost bankrupted our country, and she has given workers rights and consumer rights only ocassional lip service - she has no strong track record on their behalf. Pressure from Sanders supporters compelled her to change her healthcare stance and suggest an early buy-in for Medicare, but once elected, I suspect she’ll abandon that stance. I fear for those of you with family members in the military while she’s President - we're invading somewhere (Syria? Libya? Somewhere new?). And I greatly fear for our economy, as she has made it clear she’s a staunch friend of the banks and institutions that almost brought down our economy a few years ago - and feels their support is more important than championing the working class. Gads, Clinton wore a jacket worth $12,495 during a speech on income inequality! Her actions and words show her incredibly out-of-touch with most people in the USA. It's heart-breaking.

I used to feel very differently about Hillary Clinton. When I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, my vote was as much for her as for him. She then had a long track record for action and for speaking out about children’s rights, and was lauded for her legal work regarding children’s law. When Bill was President, conservatives said her work usurped traditional parental authority - and she just scoffed at them. I remember her going off script during a 1998 talk with Israeli and Palestinian teens meeting as part of the organization Seeds of Peace. I remember the controversy when she referred to “Palestine”. She was asked by someone at the meeting why she referred to a country that doesn’t exist, and she said: “I think that it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state, to be a state that is responsible for its citizens’ well-being, a state that has responsibility for providing education and health care and economic opportunity to its citizens.” The next year, she attended a speech at which Suha Arafat, the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and afterward, Clinton kissed Suha on the cheek, as is customary in the region - and Republicans lost their minds. Oh, yeah, THAT Hillary Clinton was *awesome*. She was her own person. I wanted to vote for THAT Hillary Clinton when she ran for President someday. But, unfortunately, that Hillary Clinton went away the moment she started running for the Senate, and I haven’t seen her since.

But I will vote for her in November, because I do know she will very likely appoint pro-choice candidates to the Supreme Court. An anti-choice candidate on the Supreme Court will be disastrous beyond measure. It will affect women you love in your life, women you work with - oh so many women in your life. The misery will be horrific. That’s why I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton in November. I just cannot sit by and let more anti-choice judges get appointed. I care about your daughters too much, folks.

Despite my problems with her track record and lack of action on so many critical issues, I also believe she is qualified to be President, that she has the capability to do the job.

I also know that Hillary Clinton will respond to the results of the mid-term elections - so that’s on us, Bernie supporters, to make sure those go Democrat - and our kind of Democrat, the one that is focused on our core party principles, on what’s best for the majority of people, not just the top 1%. We Sanders supporters have drastically affected Hillary Clinton's campaign for President. Let’s keep that pressure on and drastically affect her time as President, for the better. She will work to represent us only if we continue the pressure on her to do so.

I’ve said I will vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and why - but my reason is not enough for millions of other Sanders supporters. If Hillary Clinton wants to win, she needs to unite the Democrats - that’s her job, not Bernie’s. She needs to detail her capabilities and her VALUES and her GOALS. You were Secretary of State, but what did you accomplish as such? You were great defending yourself regarding those Benghazi allegations - but what did you do that brought the USA big benefits, that made USAID more effective, that made the world a better place? Bernie energized the party with plans to make attending public universities affordable again, to stop the unreasonable burdens of student debt, to make health care truly universal, to help working families, to make the 1 percent pay their fair of taxes - heck, to return us to the higher tax rates of the Reagan era! - so what are you going to offer those Democrats so they know you represent all tax brackets and classes? Show us your values, in practice, because many of us just do NOT know what they are - there’s just so many, many contradictions in your actions and words since you left the White House as First Lady. Talk explicitly about how you will be different as President than your husband. Which policies of the Bill Clinton administration does Hillary Clinton still endorse, and which does she NOT? I’d rather hear how you are going to be like OBAMA than like Bill! We do NOT want Bill Clinton II! And be honest about how you’ve changed your positions - because you HAVE — and why. I can respect a candidate that disagrees with me - I disagreed with Bernie on guns, among other issues. I can respect a candidate that changes, that evolves. But I can’t respect denial - so drop that immediately, Candidate Clinton. Own your actions.

I have just criticized Hillary, in detail, for her job and candidacy performance. Not her makeup, not her hair, not her voice, not her physical shape, not her gender. And I have been JUST as hard on past Secretaries of State, male and female. So any of you that accuse me of not being a “real” feminist for my lukewarm support Hillary Clinton: bite my ass and unfriend me. I'm so tired of seeing people accused of sexism because they criticized Clinton's job performance or supported Bernie instead.

It will be nice to have a woman President in the USA, of course, and I'll celebrate that. I would have said something quite similar if Colin Powell had become the first black USA President, even though he's a Republican and I wouldn't have voted for him. I loathed Condoleezza Rice, but still found huge delight in watching a black American woman treated with such deference by deeply sexist, racist regimes. A female presidency is a cultural breakthrough, one that's long overdue, and it's worth celebrating by everyone.

Fellow Sanders supporters, we also have something more to celebrate: WE are the future of the Democratic Party. Look at the ages of Bernie supporters, look at the demographic trends of all voters. Despite the work of the Democratic leadership to stop it, despite the media coverage being mostly mocking and dismissive, Sanders did far, far better, with far, far less money than Clinton, than anyone every dreamed. His message resonated - even with Republicans. If the Dem party leadership continues to ignore us, the Dems are doomed, and Clinton will be their last Presidency for a long while. If Clinton supporters continue to say things like "Bern extinguished!", then the Democratic Party is dead - I'll bring the shovel.

Bernie supporters, if you don’t vote for Hillary, I hope you will vote for *someone* - but not Trump. There's candidates from the Green Party, the Socialist Party - probably even Prohibition (there usually is). Every state is different in terms of it is allowing on its ballot in November. By voting for someone - not Trump, please - your vote will be seen. If you don’t vote, you aren’t seen, and you are written off as not caring and not worth reaching - if you have doubt of that, look at the Kentucky Governor’s race from 2015, when a fraction of the population chose the government, and only a bit more voted at all. If everyone who is disappointed in the GOP and Dem candidates for President would vote for someone  - but not Trump - as a protest vote, it would have a huge impact on how the two big parties respond - because they would know you exist and want your vote and work for it. There are many millions of Sanders supporters - don't disappear at the polls! Secondly, get on the mailing list for the local Democratic Party and go to meetings a few times a year, let your voice be heard, maybe even become a delegate or a precinct captain yourself (I intend to do the latter). That’s the only way to vote OUT people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alison Lundergan Grimes that are currently in Democratic Party leadership positions - they are COUNTING on your apathy or anger to keep you from participating, and to keep them in those positions, so they can keep the Democratic Party the way it is. They need to GO. There’s a mid-term election in two years - let’s dominate it.

I hope Hillary Clinton, as nominee and, eventually, as President, surprises me, as President Obama has surprised me. I wasn’t at all googly eyed when he was elected, and I found his aloofness for his first four years disturbing - and I believe it contributed to the loss of the House to the GOP, and a closer race in 2012 than should have been. But his accomplishments over eight years are jaw-dropping, and now I’m a blathering idiot fan. Make me a blathering idiot fan, Hillary. At least make me respect you as much as I respect Angela Merkel, whom I loathed in the years before she became Chancellor of Germany - she's surprised me so much with her daring decisions that have put human rights first.

I keep hearing Clinton supporters say, "It's time to get behind our nominee!" Right now, the most you will get from me is my vote and this blog saying why I'll be voting for her. If you want more, you'll have to earn it.

Hillary Clinton, you’ve got a lot of work to do to win over several million Democrats. And I'm open to your overtures. But such support is up to you - not Bernie Sanders. And I mean it in all sincerity that I hope you do it. We'll be watching and listening. And if you work to address our very serious, real concerns, you'll earn a lot more votes than by trying to appeal to disaffected Republicans.

Update many hours after I wrote this: Is there an echo in here, New York Times? Hillary Clinton’s Triumph, and Burden: "Unless she makes a substantial effort to win them over, they might stay home, and low turnout historically helps Republicans."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fathers & theaters

I’ll probably never see Hamilton. Certainly not on Broadway. If you’ve been priviledged to see it - and, yes, if you've seen it, you are priviledged - great for you. I understand why you blog about it and post about it on Facebook and can't stop talking about it at a party: it's a once-in-a-lifetime event, a very exclusive one, there's nothing like it anywhere, there may never be anything like it again, and you've been lucky enough to experience it.

But I’m part of the 99.9% of the country that hasn't seen it, and probably never will. I don’t have an “in” to see it, to even buy tickets to see it. I also live on the other side of the country and can't afford a trip to New York City right now. I’ll probably finally see Hamilton in 10 years or so, produced by a local amateur all-white group of performers that isn’t really sure how this whole hip hop thing is supposed to work, but they will be oh-so-earnest in their attempt to present the magic.

There’s a blog by Joe Posnanski being shared across the Interwebs right now about how he managed to take his daughter to see Hamilton on Broadway. It’s an incredibly sweet piece. His daughter cried a lot and squeezed his arm a lot, because he made her ultimate dream come true. What a gift. He knows what a huge moment he's been able to give her, that they've been able to share together. That’s something she and he will cherish for the rest of their lives. Beautiful. Great for them.

It made me think of my own father. And theater. Very different experiences from his, however.

My father and I didn’t like each other. In fact, most times, I hated him, and he was none too fond of me. He was an alcoholic who ruined most events: Christmas family gatherings, Thanksgiving family gatherings, my high school graduation, or just an evening meal… and he hated that I would refer to those ruined events, to remind everyone of what an ass he could be. He secretly recorded my telephone conversations and drunkenly mocked me with the information he gleaned from such, leaving me confused and humiliated - no teen girl should have her intimate conversations overheard by her father. He would call my friends' parents late at night and tell them, "You think you're better than me, but you're not," and ramble on and on, and I would have to face their children at school the following Monday and apologize. Most of those parents forbid their kids from coming to our house for sleep overs, and seemed nervous whenever I was in their houses. He did some really other humiliating, even abusive things I'm still not comfortable sharing on a blog, and probably will never be.

And then there were our differences in tastes and values. He wanted me to wear dresses and makeup and be beautiful and elegant, but I wanted to wear flannel and listen to Patsy Cline and watch “Star Wars.” He wanted me to be popular, I wanted to disappear. We were polar opposites on most political issues as well. We consistently made each other miserable.

But there was this one thing we did have in common: Theater. Dad loved theater. He loved a live performance in particular, especially if there was music involved. And he knew, early on, that I loved it too.

There was that time in the 1970s when he made me watch The Sound of Music on TV. I did not want to at all. I did not want to because the kids were cute and happy and singing in the commercials and, therefore, I hated them. And I did not want to because he wanted me to watch it. But I watched it. And I loved it. And I watched it every year it was on TV while I lived in our family home.

There was that time when he took me to the Executive Inn in Evansville, Indiana in the 1980s for a weekend matinee of a touring company doing 10 Nights in a Bar Room in the tiny performance space there - I think it was in the basement. And don’t think the irony of an alcoholic father taking me to a campy melodrama about an alcoholic father was lost on me even then. But the company was actually really wonderful. I laughed. A lot. It was delightful. He’d already seen the production with my mother, and he arranged for the lead actress to come to our table after that matinee performance and talk to me about how to work professionally in theater.

There was that time he took me back to the Executive Inn the following year to see a touring company doing South Pacific. It was a terrific little production as well. And he told me how he’d seen it at the movies, by himself, back in the 1950s.

There was the time he took me to see three storytellers that were touring the state, telling a story about a crime. I can’t remember the crime. I can’t remember the story. But I remember being riveted as I sat there in the high school auditorium, watching three men take turns telling a story - no light effects, no sound effects, no costumes, just them, talking.

On all four occasions, he said to my Mom, “Well, I think Jayne would really like this and should see it.” And he was insistent I see all four - the only thing he ever made me do. And I loved all four of those experiences. He was right. Other than when he taught me to drive a stick shift and took me on a very short motorcycle ride on his beloved Gold Wing, both experiences after a few years of sobriety and many years apart, it's the only great times we shared together. But during those experiences, I never grabbed his armed and squeezed it as tight as I could, like the girl in the Hamilton story. I never sobbed. I sat and watched those shows and really liked them, just like my father knew I would, but the awkwardness, the uneasiness, the distrust between us - it never left us, and we barely said anything to each other before or after the performances.

This blog that you're reading now won't go viral. I'm just not that cool. I haven't seen Hamilton. I probably won't ever see it. And I'll never get to improve my relationship with my father - he died in 1996 - 20 years ago. None of that is viral story worthy. But I haven't thought about those four theater experiences with, or because of, my father in decades, and I'm thankful for Mr. Posnanski for that. Theater is an amazing thing. I need to remember that, and enjoy it, wherever I am, more often.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Job searches: they never get easier

"After a more in-depth review by a subject matter expert panel, we find that we have candidates that possess more directly related training and experience for this position. Regretfully, we will not be considering your application further for this particular opportunity."

I can recite that from memory. Or something very nearly like it. Because I've read it - or something like it - so many times.

I don’t apply for absolutely any job out there that I think I could do. I apply only for jobs that I believe I have the perfect set of skills and experience for and that make me look forward to working there.

I spend more than an hour on any one job application, reading about the organization and the senior staff, adjusting my CV as appropriate, writing a unique cover letter that expresses why I want to work at the organization, in that particular role, and on and on. I am singularly focused on that job for all that time, so much so that it becomes difficult to apply for more than one job in a day - sometimes, within the same week. I go back and read application materials weeks and months later, reviewing how I said this or that - could my message be improved? I have friends review my CV from time-to-time. I adjust, I rewrite, I tweak.

From 1994 to 2005, I didn’t apply for any jobs - jobs just got offered, often out of the blue. They got offered because of people I knew or because of something I did online that got lots of attention. And that decade spoiled me. I remember feeling smug at times, and sometimes unsympathetic, at others who were looking for work and not having success. I imagined all sorts of mistakes they were making: sounding desperate, applying for lots of jobs instead of focusing their job search on just those jobs to which they were perfectly matched and wanted to do, not networking, a cover letter that just rehashes their résumé, not having their skills and accomplishments explicitly detailed in their CV and on their LinkedIn profile, and on and on.

Needless to say, I changed my tune when I finished my Master’s Degree in December 2005 and started a job search for the first time in more than a decade - and job offers did NOT pour in. By the Fall of 2006, I was beyond humbled. And oh-so-grateful when a consulting job offer did come in, at long last (two, in fact).

But for the last 10 years, jobs have been really hard to come by. I am competing with laid off corporate public relations staff, with laid off journalists, with lower-level workers at the hiring company that are looking to move up, and, I suspect, my age. I remember a young woman I worked with back in 1994, who derided anyone over 40 as being muddled and incapable of learning and adverse to innovation and change. I picture people like her on the other end of the job application pipeline, figuring out how old I am and turning up her nose.

Which is all just a really long-winded way of saying that I hate looking for a job. I'm so ready for a job. Maybe it's time to chuck it all and work at PetSmart. "Do you need help out with that, ma'am?" Not that there's anything wrong with working at PetSmart. But it's not what I had in mind at this time in my life.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Subways and Gorillas

The first time I went to London, I was 21. The first time I went to New York City, I was 22. And what blew this little Kentucky girl's mind in both cities were the subways. I just couldn't believe how potentially dangerous they were.

They were deathtraps.

I stood there inside those subway tunnels and thought, holy cow, anyone could just take a step or two, at any time, and, bam, down that person would go onto the tracks, to be electrocuted by that third rail or smashed by a train. There was no barrier, no guards standing there to make sure people weren't stupid - just a thick yellow line that, I surmised, I was supposed to stand behind until the train came. And in London, there was this big gap between the platform and the door - one misstep and down you would go between the platform and the train! The only warning was a voice that kept saying, "Mind the gap!"

I thought, kids must die on the subway ALL THE TIME. They must regularly squirm away from their parents hand and run right out, off the platform and into oblivion. I was terrified every time I stood in those subway tunnels, awaiting death right before my eyes as the train approached. I thought, man, if these were in Kentucky, there would be carnage every day - my tribe just couldn't handle it.

Sorry, Kentuckians, but it's what I thought.

Since then, I've been in subways all over Europe, as well as riding light rails and raised trains in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, San José, Austin and, of course, here in the greater Portlandia area. And they are all pretty much the same in terms of platforms and railings and drops and no barriers between you and the train. And, thankfully, I've never seen anyone die in the subway. According to this article, around 50 people die in the New York City subway system. The majority of these are suicides. I assume it's similar in other cities.

If you go on a subway, light rail or any passenger train, you are expected to not be stupid and NOT get close to a moving train, jump on the tracks, or push anyone onto the tracks. And you are expected to make sure your kids don't do these things either. It's your responsibility to adhere to the rules of a subway or light rail, and it's your responsibility to make sure your kids do too. It's a worldwide unspoken understanding.

So why is a zoo getting blamed for a kid breaching its far-more extensive security measures on a gorilla enclosure?

I am so glad the child is okay, and so heart-broken at the killing of the gorilla - which, in the moment, was the right choice, however tragic. No, that gorilla did not deserve that death, but in that moment, it was the right decision.

But I read all these people saying the zoo "didn't do enough."

A zoo isn't a babysitter any more than a subway system is.

Kids dart out from the clutches of their parents, I know that. I see that. If I were a parent, I'm not sure I'd walk in a parking lot with a kid EVER, based on how many kids I've seen taking off from their parents in such - luckily, I've never seen a tragedy there, but I've had my breath taken away oh-so-many times.

On one of the many editorials written about this, someone said, "If the scales had tipped the other way, and the child had been mutilated to death by that gorilla in front of his parents and a crowd of people, these same sanctimonious jack bags would be at least as outraged about unsafe animals/ enclosures, inaction by the zoo, etc. "

No. I would be horrified and saddened that a child died such a traumatizing, violent death. I would cry. A lot. But I'd no more be outraged about the zoo's safety precautions, which by all accounts were proper and have worked well for almost 40 years, than I am by those wide open subway platforms or two-rail fences at national park vista points or playgrounds in parks just 40 steps from a road or parking lots at grocery stores where we are all trying our best to not run each other over.

Do I judge parents whose children die in such circumstances? I try really hard not to. I try not to judge people who die hiking or camping either, because I've done some really dumb things in my life, and just because of luck, I didn't die. I have watched my sister suck in her breath suddenly when one of her kids just suddenly, out of no where, does something amazingly dangerous - and before she can run those four steps, the activity stops and no one has died and we're all so thrilled and I am happy, yet again, that I'm not a parent.

And on a side note, if I've embarrassed you in a parking lot or grocery store or other public space when I've found your kid and, because he or she is too young to tell me where to find you, I have said, in a loud voice, "Does anyone know whose kid this is?", well - I'm not apologizing. And if I've made you angry when I have called out, "Hey, you and your kid shouldn't get that close to that elk!", I'm also not apologizing.